Ohio lawmakers consider requirement to bury or cremate fetal remains

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The Ohio Senate has passed a bill requiring women who have surgical abortions to choose either burial or cremation for the fetal remains.

Senate Bill 27 comes in the wake of a recent court decision allowing Ohio to strip abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, of state funding.

A woman seeking an abortion would have to express in writing, via a confidential form the Ohio Department of Health will develop, whether she wants the fetal remains to be buried or cremated, Cleveland.com reports.

The abortion facility would pay for the burial or cremation unless the woman wants her fetus buried at a different location than the facility provides, the bill says. The facility will have to demonstrate and document the date and method used, and maintain a list of locations that the abortion facility uses to cremate or bury remains.

Women under 18 seeking an abortion would first have to obtain consent from a parent, guardian, or court. If a woman decides not to exercise her right to choose burial or cremation and does not have a preference, then the abortion facility will have to choose either cremation or burial.

Though the bill provides for a first-degree misdemeanor charge for anyone who knowingly fails to dispose of fetal remains legally, the woman who obtained the abortion cannot be charged.

The bill passed the Senate 24-7 and moves on to the House. The House has received two similar bills in the past but neither has become law, Cleveland.com reports.

Ohio had passed a law in 2016 that banned state funds from going to medical providers that offer abortions. In 2018, the Sixth Circuit unanimously ruled the law unconstitutional.

The state appealed, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 12 of this year reversed the earlier decision by a 11-6 vote.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who authored the majority opinion, said that Ohio had no constitutional requirement to provide money to any private organization, Planned Parenthood or otherwise. Planned Parenthood operates 26 clinics in Ohio, and will lose about $1.5 million in state funds as a result of this decision.

The Ohio Department of Health is already notifying Planned Parenthood clinics across the state, informing them that their state funding will end in April. A spokesman for ODH said that ODH gave about $600,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood during 2018.

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